April 13, 2007

Defense happy with Thursday's effort

For Ian Campbell, the sign of victory arrived shortly before 11:30 p.m. when for the first time observed in a Thursday spring practice, Ron Prince pulled the entire first-team offense aside and lectured the group behind the end zone. Prince, a former offensive line coach, wasn't pleased. But Campbell and his defensive teammates that held firm three of four times inside the three-yard line, couldn't have been happier with their effort.

"We're definitely the hammer and they're the nail in practice," Campbell said.

That was most evident in the Wildcats' fourth open practice and their 10th overall leading up to the annual spring game Apr. 21, as the defense appeared every bit the unit that posted a Big 12-leading 39 sacks a year ago and looks to improve upon its No. 9 ranking (148.8 yards) against the run.

Whether it was in red zone situational drills or down-and-distance situations near midfield, the defensive front made life difficult for center Jordan Bedore and a penalty-prone offensive line. That translated into tough yards by James Johnson and Terry Petrie in the backfield and four interceptions by Josh Freeman in his worst public outing of the spring.

"The penalties and turnovers are things we must eliminate in order to reach any of our goals," Prince said. "Last year in the absence of those things we did OK and did some nice things. In the presence of those things it was very challenging to win. That has been one of the major themes. Tonight that message didn't get across very clear."

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